Sludge management in Jordan: Sustainability through innovation

Project description

Title: Decentralised Integrated Sludge Management (DISM)
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Lead executing agency: Water Authority of Jordan
Overall term: 2015 to 2019



Jordan is one of the most water scarce-countries in the world. The pressure on its water resources is constantly rising due to population growth, climate change and economic development. Today, the water scarcity is being aggravated by an influx of refugees. Meanwhile, around two-thirds of the population have connections to the central sewer network.

There are about 31 domestic wastewater treatment plants in Jordan. The largest, in As-Samra, serves the people of Amman and Zarqa – almost half the country’s population – thereby treating about 60 per cent of all the wastewater produced in Jordan. Among the smaller plants, only Al Shallaleh plant in the north is using sludge to generate energy. All of the other treatment facilities have no proper sludge utilisation or management plan in place. At the plants that serve various cities, sludge has become an ecological, environmental and financial burden.

Accumulated sludge causes major health and environmental risks, and it contributes to increased greenhouse gas emissions. Today, sludge is mainly handled as waste, not as a resource that can provide energy or be used in agricultural contexts. In addition, Jordan faces major challenges in handling other sources of biomass, because its municipalities lack proper solid waste management systems and infrastructure. Unlined dump sites that pose risks to groundwater and cause environmental pollution are widespread.


An integrated approach has been put in place for the treatment and reuse of sludge, in order to tackle the problems of sludge collected in wastewater treatment plants and to contribute to reducing CO2 emissions.


On behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH is supporting the Water Authority of Jordan in its efforts to find suitable solutions for the treatment and reuse of sewage sludge. The project aims to reduce the carbon footprint of the sludge handling process. To this end, it considers the use of sludge primarily as a source of energy, but also as a soil conditioner and a fertilizer. The project also seeks to demonstrate an integrated approach to the treatment and reuse of sludge in combination with other biomass sources (co-digestion). After the energy potential of the sludge has been tapped, residual sludge undergoes further processing, together with other sources of biomass, to produce a treated organic mix that can be used to improve soil quality.

The integrated approach ensures the involvement of all significant stakeholders, from the relevant ministries and municipalities, to the water utilities and farmers. The project also includes close scientific cooperation with Mutah University and the National Agricultural Research Center (NARC) station, both located close to the Mutah-Mazar demonstration plant in the Governorate of Karak. In addition, the project collaborates closely with The Biosafety and Biosecurity Center of the Royal Scientific Society - Jordan to assess and manage risks with handling sewage sludge.

At this stage, the project is piloting codigestion of sludge from Muta – Mazar Wastewater Treatment Plant and food waste from the canteens of Muta University. This is expected to result in reducing greenhouse gas emissions by about 1,770,000 kg of CO2 equivalent per year and will generate electric and thermal energy of around 990 megawatt hours (MWh) per year. These steps will significantly improve the eco-efficiency of the wastewater utility. Moreover, capacity building measures are being implemented. They include the techniques in the processing of biomass digestion and methods of laboratory analyses to assess the quality of treated biomass and evaluate and manage the possible risks.

The project is part of the German Climate Technology Initiative (DKTI), which promotes the take-up of climate technologies in emerging economies and developing countries, thereby linking climate protection, sustainable development and poverty reduction. The initiative promotes the transition to a low-carbon economy and contributes to achieving the two-degree climate goal. It also focuses on mobilising economic potentials for climate technologies.